New road development makes up for lost family time for Ra community

Caption: Ms. Asena Ragia (first from left) with other women from Maniava Settlement in the district of Tokaimalo in Ra their newly upgraded community access road.

Primary school children of Maniava Settlement in the district of Tokaimalo in the interior of Ra do not ever have to be separated from their parents on a weekly basis due to poor accessibility to school.

For more than 10 years, these children would only reunite with their parents on weekends as a result of the unavailability of proper access to and from their homes to get to school.

Maniava Settlement District Advisory Councilor (DAC) Mr. Waisake Raikadroka said this was a challenging time for them as parents.

“Our children used to go and camp in school and we would take turns in looking after them. This was all because we didn’t have a proper road to be used by our children to get to school. This was a challenging period as we missed out a lot on quality family time with our children, especially during the weekdays,” Mr Raikadroka said.

“In the past when we want to take some things to town, we would need to take them on our back or transport it on horseback. This was a very challenging time.”

Other community members, particularly mothers, are among those who have been impacted greatly by the absence of a proper access to and from Maniava Settlement in the past decade.

Mother-of-four Ms. Asena Ragia said as mothers, they have faced a lot of very challenging moments before the road to their community was upgraded.

“I can vividly remember that after giving birth to my second child, I had to carry her and walk for at least 30 minutes from where the vehicles dropped us to get home. Whenever we had to go for clinic, we would carry our infant children on our back to walk to the nearest health centre then we would walk back in the hot sun. These were very hard and challenging times,” she said.

In 2022, the Government, through the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management with support from the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Governance for Resilient Development in the Pacific (Gov4Res) project, worked with the community to upgrade their community access road to ensure that it took into consideration climate change and disaster risks both to and from the project. Risk management measures were identified and incorporated as part of the project implementation.

Completed at a cost of more than $80,000, the project now offer the residents of Maniava an improved access to and from the comfort of their homes.

“We are really grateful for this joint assistance by the Government and the UNDP. This has really improved accessibility for us, and has also changed mindsets on the different opportunities that is now available to us as a result of this new development. Our children and our women can now travel to and from the village in vehicles, compared to what we used to face before,” Mr Raikadroka stated.

Ms Ragia said the women from the village were grateful and excited about the upgrade to their access road.

“This new development has really brought a lot of relief to us as mothers and we are so happy,” she said.

Residents of Maniava have also ventured into yaqona farming to generate revenue for their daily livelihoods.

In addition to this, women from the village have now also become frequent vendors at the Rakiraki market following the completion of their community access road.

Caption: Maniava Settlement District Advisory Councilor (DAC) Mr. Waisake Raikadroka with other residents of the Settlement at their newly upgraded community access road.